What is Social Casework?

Definition of Social Casework

Social casework is a primary method of social work. It is concerned with the adjustment & development of individuals towards more satisfying relations in different situations. It follows a systematic approach to studying & diagnose the client's problem.

Read in Bangla: ব্যক্তি সমাজকর্ম: ধারণা, উপাদান, নীতি ও পদ্ধতি

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Social casework has been defined by different social scientists from various aspects. Such as ─

According to Warner Boehm, "Social Casework is a method of social work which intervenes in the psycho-social aspects of a person's life to improve, to restore, to maintain and to enhance his social functioning by improving his role performance."


According to Safrad, "Social Casework is a method employed by a social worker to help individuals and to find a solution  of their problem of social adjustment which they can enable to handle in a satisfactory way by their own efforts."


Mary Richmond says that "Social casework may be defined as the art of doing different things with different people co-operating with them to achieve some of their own and society's betterment." 


Objectives of Social Casework

There are some objectives of social casework. These areas follow-

  • To make good rapport with the common people.
  • To find out and understand and solve the internal problem of the individuals.
  • To strengthen one's ego power.
  • To prevent problems.
  • To develop internal resources.

Read: Data Collection Methods of Casework

Read: What is Social Work?

Nature of Social Casework

  • A relationship contains acceptance, expectation, support, and stimulation elements in social casework.
  • The client and caseworker are independent.
  • A casework relationship may have several therapeutic values.
  • It is the improvement of the condition.
  • It is a development of personality.
  • It is capacity building.
  • It is more adjustment within the society.
  • In social casework, relationship needs outside help.

Elements of Social Casework

About the elements of social Casework, Helen Harris Perlman says, "A person with a problem comes to a place where a professional representative helps him by a given process."


It is known as the 5P theory. According to this definition, there are five elements of social casework. These are –

1. Person

2. Problem

3. Place

4. Professional representative

5. Process



Any individual is not a person in social casework practice. A person is a man, woman, child or anyone with social-psychological and economic problems who finds or needs some help and assistance in his social living. This person is known as a client. When a person fails or can not cope with his problems through his own effort and seeks, social workers' help is considered a client.


Problem/Psycho-social Issue

A problem is a situation that arises from a man's surrounding obstacle and has attacked the adequacy of his efforts to work effectively. According to Hussain & Alauddin – "Problem in social casework means a stressful situation which has threatened or disturbed the normal functioning of the client" problem may be of two conditions. Such as

a) Intra-personal Problem: Intra-personal Problem is a situation that affects only one man, and the impact of the situation is being felt by only one particular man

b) Inter-personal Problem: Inter-personal Problem is a situation that affects two or more individuals or a group

The person's problem can be social, psychological, physical, economic etc. Such problems of the client originate from the following sources.

1. Economic dislocation.

2. Social dislocation.

3. Economic male adjustment.

4. Social male adjustment.

5. Inter-personal conflict.

6. Intra-familiar conflict.

7. Personality disturbance.



Place/Social Work Agency

Place refers to the agency through which the professional caseworker helps the client's social functioning. According to Hussain & Alauddin – "A social caseworker agency is an organised institution which renders services materials or non- materials for the solution of their problems." The agency is formed into two

a) Public agency: public agency refers to agencies run by the state help.

b) Private agency: Private agency refers to agencies run by voluntary contribution and aid from the state.

According to Perlman, three main factors determine the classification of the agency. These are-

a) There is a source of support.

b) There is a source of professional authority.

c) There are particular functions & areas of concern.


Professional Representative/Social Caseworker

Professional representative means social caseworker. A caseworker should be skilful in establishing relationships with the clients and finding out the client's problems and solutions. According to Hussain & Alauddin- "By social caseworker is meant a professional person employed by a social agency who possess knowledge, skills & techniques of social casework."

The social caseworker has the obligation towards

→ his profession

→ his agency

 → his client

→ his own self

The caseworker's designation varies with the workplace, such as medical caseworkers, psychiatric caseworkers etc.


Process/Problem-solving Process

Process means a series of actions. But in the social casework practice, the process refers to a series of steps taken to help the clients solve the problems. But this doesn't mean that the caseworker can solve all the clients' issues. A caseworker selects the Problem-solving process by observing the client's motion, emotions, desires and abilities. He can refer him to others if he can not find out or select the client's problem-solving process. In Problem solving process, there are five phases.

a) Psycho-social study

b) Diagnosis

c) Treatment plan

d) Evaluation

e) Follow-up


Principles of Social Casework

Every agency has some rules & regulations. The fundamental rules guiding the caseworker in his action are social casework principles. These principles are classified into two-

a) Differential principles: The differential principle refers to those principles that help the caseworker diagnose cases in different conditions.

b) Generic principles: The generic principle refers to those principles which can be applied in all conditions of casework practice. The generic principles are classified into seven. These are-



Principle of Acceptance

Acceptance means to consent to receive. Under this principle-  a caseworker must accept an individual as a person of worth & dignity, not treat them as a problem person and always accept one's positive & negative feelings. When the client meets with the caseworker for the first time, he feels fear & anxiety about the new person. For this reason, the caseworker should accept client-friendly. So that he can share with him all his problems. This mutual acceptance is called rapport. In the flow chart, this rapport is-



Principle of Communication

Communication means the exchange of information. But in social casework practice, it is the exchange of views & ideas, feelings & thoughts regarding the problems between the client & the social worker. By communication, a caseworker can realise & explain the client's present situation. Communication takes place in two ways-

1.  Through word discussion relating to the problem.

2.  Through feelings & expression. 

The principle of communication in casework practice calls for clarification & reclarification of the conditions under which two people engage in a professional rapport.


Principle of Participation

Participation means to take part. In social casework practice, the caseworker & the client build up a rapport to solve the client's problem. But this rapport depends on the active participation of the client. With the active participation of the client, a caseworker can

→ Find out the effective solution to the problem.

→ Assess the client's strengths & weaknesses

→ increase the client's confidence

The primary goal of Problem solving process also can be possible through the active participation of the client. It increases the client's self-determination and decision-making capacity regarding the different elements of the stressful situation.


Principle of Self-determination

The principle of self-determination provides the right of freedom of the client in making his choice & decision in the Problem-solving process with the help of a caseworker. But this right is not limitless. It is limited by the client's capacity to make a decision.

→ by the law

→ by the moral code of conduct

→ By the agency.

Under this principle, a caseworker-

→Help the client to see the problem clearly.

→Help the client to activate his own dormant resources.

→Create a favourable environment in which the client feels free.

→Not manipulate any decision directly.

→Not urge the client to accept his decision.


Principle of Confidentiality

Confidentiality means the law of keeping secrets. In social casework practise, confidentiality is-

→The preservation of secret information concerning the client.

→The fundamental right of the client.

→The ethical obligation of the client.

→ Necessary for effective casework practice.

Under this principle, a caseworker tries to get information about the client to understand the problem in-depth. But the client is a direct source of information, and he wants to remain protected generally. So that other person cannot know about his personal details. For this, a caseworker should reserve & preserve the client's information.


Principle of Individualization

Individualisation means analysing an individual not from a single aspect but from various aspects. According to W. A. Friedlander- "Individualization is the recognition & understanding of each client's unique qualities & the differential use of principles & methods in assisting each towards a better adjustment."

Under this principle, a caseworker-

→ Free from bias & prejudice.

→ Keep the knowledge of human behaviour.

→ Keep the ability to listen & observe.

→ Keep the ability to move at the client's pace.

→ keep the ability to enter the feelings of the client

Essentials of individualisation are-

→ Preparation of interview.

→ Privacy of interview.

→ Encouraging the client.

→ Language & Flexibility.


Principle of Self-awareness

The principle of self-awareness requires that the caseworker be aware of his own self, strength, & weakness. It is important

→ to know oneself

→ to assess one's strengths & weaknesses

→ To understand the feelings of others.

A caseworker must be self-aware. Without knowing his own prejudices, pet hates, and biases, he may easily distort his picture of the client's personality. This ability is weakened if the caseworker is influenced by emotions, prejudices, discrimination & sensitivity.

Read in Bangla: ব্যক্তি সমাজকর্ম: ধারণা, উপাদান, নীতি ও পদ্ধতি

Read: NASW Code of Ethics for Social Workers


Qualification/Qualities of a Good Social Case Worker

A caseworker tries to find out the problem and the problem-solving process through the client's active participation. For this, a caseworker should possess the following qualification-

§  Keep the ability to understand the nature & significance of the problem in the context of the client's personality, wishes and strengths & weaknesses.

§  Keep special skills to diagnose the client's problem in a shorter time through practising the knowledge & views drawn from sociology, psychology, physiology, economics & other behavioural science.

§  Keep special skills & experience to apply casework techniques in the treatment process by maintaining the social work values & ideas.

§  Keep the ability to build a good rapport with the client through his own cordial mind, good attitude & behaviour, sweet talk & speech so that the client feels free to share his dormant problem.

§  Keep the ability to talk following the client's language to create a cordial atmosphere for meaningful interaction with the client.

§  Keep the ability to listen to the client's problem with proper goodness, patience & sympathy and not urge the client to accept his likeness & dislike ness.

§  Keep the ability to find out the problem through the effective interview and remain skilled to record the client's problem after the discussion.

§  Keep the ability to secret the information of the client. Because every client wants the privacy of the data, the other person cannot know about his personal details.

§  Keep the ability to lead the framework of democratic ideals for energising the client and display false hope.

§  Keep a working relationship with other relevant agencies in the profession's interest as a social worker.

§  Should possess self-awareness so that his picture doesn't distort the client's personality.


Read: Significance of studying Social Work

Read: Why you should study Social Work?

Problems of Social Casework Practice in Bangladesh

The primary 10 problems of practising social casework in Bangladesh are mentioned in the following.

1.     Lack of recognition of social work as a profession.

2.     Illiteracy & ignorance of people.

3.     Lack of skilful & professional caseworker.

4.     Lack of mutual understanding.

5.     Lack of a sound institutional system.

6.     Lack of publicity.

7.     Limitation of money.

8.     Problem to take interview.

9.     Complexity regarding values & norms.

10.    Ancient mentality of people.


Scope of Social Casework Practice in Bangladesh

§  Medical social work

§  School social work.

§  Psychiatric social work.

§  Family planning.

§  Family & child welfare.

§  Centre for drug addiction treatment.

§  Rehabilitation for socially handicapped people.

§  Social security.

§  Youth unrest.


1. Hussain, M. N., & Alauddin, M. (1970). Introduction to Social Work Methods
2. Ghafoor and Mannan (1968), Social Welfare, Decca


  1. its much relevant and to the point literature about social case work. but it would be more effective if the references were also available at the end of this article.

  2. This really helped me alot

  3. It is very important information to me .It is brief explanation with essential information.It helps me in my study

  4. Waaaaoh thank you Bhavya for introducing me to this forum

  5. Awesome it's really help me the lot 😊

  6. Great work, thank you. Reference may be added.

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